No sugarcoating how bad FSU has looked in first two games


The Florida State football program and coach Willie Taggart avoided an embarrassing loss on Saturday night. That much is true.

It was still plenty embarrassing though, wasn’t it?

People can say a “win is a win.” That’s fine. I’m usually one of those people, in fact.

Not after this one.

Even though Florida State escaped with a 36-26 victory over Samford, the head scratching only intensified. And the concern about where exactly this team is going only deepened.

An FCS team, albeit a good one, came into Doak and put up over 500 yards of offense. And led FSU, which was ranked in the Top 20 in the country earlier this week, for the first 55 minutes of the game.

That is troubling to say the least.

So much of what we saw the past week was troubling. Especially on Saturday night.

The defense in the first half got abused. Harlon Barnett made some nice adjustments in the second half, but giving up 300 yards passing in a half is embarrassing. And I know that kid was a heck of a quarterback. He might be the best one that plays in Doak Campbell Stadium this year.

He’s legit. But 300 yards in less than a half is inexcusable.

It looked like the FSU defense was just not prepared to play. And essentially, it wasn’t. With the short week, the Seminoles had very little time to get geared up for Chris Hatcher’s Air Raid attack. And let’s be honest: There were a few times where quarterback Devlin Hodges just made what-can-you-do?- type throws. Just dropped them in like he was the second coming of Danny Wuerffel.

Not to excuse the performance of the defense, because there isn’t one. Giving up 500 yards to an FCS offense is bananas. Especially when you have multiple NFL players on your roster. But context matters. Florida State was coming off a tough loss, having to play five days later, against an FCS All-America caliber quarterback and a couple of really good receivers. It was not an easy task.

But this Seminoles program is 10-11 in its last 21 ACC games. And 18-13 in its last 31 games against FBS schools. So wins haven’t exactly been easy to come by around here for quite some time. Maybe, just maybe, Florida State football is just what the numbers say it is: Mediocre.

We’ve watched eight quarters of Florida State football now this season, and there is just no denying the obvious: This is not a good football team. It’s got a roster full of players who have no real clue what it takes to be elite.

This is a group of players that had a coach quit on it in the middle of the year, then leave for an SEC also-ran after the program’s worst season in four decades. This is a wounded team. One that, quite frankly, doesn’t know how to win at a Florida State level. That’s what Taggart took over.

So, no, this isn’t going to be easy.

But that by no means gets Taggart off the hook for how his team has looked through the first two games: Sloppy, lost, soft, poorly coached. Use any of those descriptions you want. Because they all fit.

“We’ve got to play cleaner,” Taggart said. “We’ve got to play smarter if we’re going to be a championship football team like we aspire to be.”

The question we all have now is: Can Taggart turn it around?

Here’s the truth: None of us know for sure.



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